The holidays are a busy time for gatherings with family and friends. Unfortunately, for those with hearing loss, a common and frustrating question at these events often is, “Can you hear me now?”
While family and friends without hearing loss may not have problems hearing one another, if you have hearing loss and wear hearing aids, you may struggle more with hearing conversations and joining in. Because of that, some people even avoid these gatherings, choosing to stay home where they can better control their listening environment.
Don’t miss out on these special occasions though. With a few suggestions, you can hear what your friends and family are saying. Try following these tips:
- Be sure you’re ready for the event! If you wear rechargeable hearing aids, make sure they have a full charge before going to a holiday event. If you wear traditional hearing aids with batteries, change batteries before you go or take extras with you in case your hearing aids start to run low while there.
- If you’re hosting a holiday party, be sure to ask guests if they have problems hearing. If they do, keep the lights turned up. Though candles might be more festive, it’s easier to see people’s facial expressions and read lips when the room is lighter. Likewise, if you’re attending the party, ask your host to keep the lights turned up or find a well-lit spot to talk with friends and family.
- If you’re attending an event at a restaurant, ask to be seated away from the kitchen or entrance. Both of these areas tend to be noisier with people constantly coming and going.
- If there’s background noise at the host’s home, such as music playing or the TV, ask if they can lower the volume or turn it off. That will reduce troublesome background noise for anyone with hearing loss. Or, if you’re hosting, keep the background noise to a minimum.
- When engaged in conversation with someone, tell them you have problems hearing in groups. Ask them to face you and speak clearly. Again, this can help give context to their facial expressions, and also can help if you read lips. Also, don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves if you miss a piece of the conversation.
- If the room you are in is just too loud or dark, look for a quieter spot away from the crowd to talk.
- And finally, if you wear hearing aids, let technology help you hear better. Many advanced hearing aids have directional microphones that you can easily control with an app on your phone. By using the app, you can shift the hearing aids’ power to the front, back, left or right. This can be especially helpful if you’re having problems hearing someone seated near you at a dinner.
You also might consider utilizing a remote microphone. Remote microphones are personal technology that can help you communicate better in one-on-one conversations. These clip-on, table-top or hand-held devices bring the sound you want to hear closer to your ears, capturing the sound you want to hear and filtering out some background noise.
How would you use a remote mic? Let’s say you’re at a holiday gathering and are trying to talk with a relative you haven’t seen for years, but you’re having trouble hearing over the chatter. With a remote mic, you would just ask your conversation partner to clip on or speak into the microphone. The sound is then transmitted directly to your hearing aids, reducing competing noise so you can understand the other person more clearly.
If you happen to wear Widex Moment hearing aids, a device called Sound Assist can help improve communication in a variety of situations. Widex Sound Assist is a small square-shaped device that can connect to Widex Moment hearing aids, acting as a remote microphone to stream sound to the individual’s hearing aids.
Another option to help boost hearing aid performance and bridge the understanding gap is Roger FM. This wireless microphone has been available for a couple of years and is helpful for all, but especially for those with poor speech clarity, a greater degree of hearing loss, or anyone who needs to hear well from a distance. It has the capability to work with a larger variety of Widex and Phonak hearing aid models.
There are other remote mics and assistive technology available. In addition to helping you hear better in background noise or holiday gatherings, these devices can make great gifts for someone who wears hearing aids.
To learn more about remote mics and assistive listening technology, schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist to discuss the latest options.